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Career Development

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"CEP’s biennial salary survey is presented in the June 2015 issue and includes a quantitative analysis of chemical engineering salaries relative to variables such as age, experience, functional area, state, industry, etc." [Source: AIChE]

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[Pictured: Eric Breitung, a senior research scientist for the Metropolitan Museum of Art / Credit: LeighAnne Olsen]


As the saying goes: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.


Being a skilled chemist is key to excelling in your career; however, the ability to network is equally important.


Case in point, a senior research scientist for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met), Eric Breitung, was fortunate enough to earn his position after nine years of effective networking.


In 2006, he applied for a position at the Met, but didn’t get the job. Nevertheless, he contacted Marco Leona, the department head, and was able to foster a strong relationship and get a one-year fellowship.


In 2015, after years of continued communication, Leona encouraged Breitung to apply for the senior research scientist position at the Met, which he later earned and accepted. As a result, Breitung’s interest in science and art is combined through his daily responsibility of overseeing the museum’s chemical environment.


If your dream is to work in industry, like Breitung, then you’re in luck!


ACS Career Pathways is offering free online Virtual Classrooms that are designed to help ACS members achieve their career goals. The upcoming classrooms are Networking: How to Get Started (October 26, 2016) and Résumé Development: Marketing Your Brand for an Industrial Chemistry Position (November 16, 2016). Register today to catapult your career!

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1. Your employer may provide tuition assistance

If you are currently working for a chemical-related company, you may be able to get tuition assistance to advance your education. The number one reason companies provide assistance is to foster a smarter workforce, which, in return, makes the company more desirable to future employees, partners and sponsors. According to GoGrad, a guide to online graduate programs, “a report from the Society for Human Resource Management claims that 54 percent of employers offer tuition assistance.” This learned knowledge may also make it easier for you to correspond with other company departments or allow you to implement new, efficient business practices that could help bring in revenue.


2. Exposure to new lab equipment

Depending on your company’s budget for technology, it is likely that you will work on important research projects without the most up-to-date laboratory equipment. Generally speaking, laboratory equipment servicing should be planned at least once a year. To make sure that you are familiar with newly released equipment in the field, you could take a course in a highly equipped lab that will allow you to work with more innovative technology. Consequently, you will be able to share your experience with your colleagues and executive leaders to educate them and encourage them to budget for the equipment in future financial plans.


3. Gain skills to excel in your career   

As you progress in your career, it is essential to gain new skills to remain marketable. This is especially true if you plan to shift your field from biochemistry to chemical engineering, for example. A cost efficient and timely way to do this is by taking a professional education that focuses on your topic of choice. Not only will new skills allow you to become more specialized in your field, but it will also set you up for a pay raise.


Take your career to the next level by signing up for an ACS Professional Education short course. Register for a course today!


Innovation is the key to thriving in the competitive business world. However, oftentimes, innovation is driven by crisis rather than proactive creativity. Martin Zwilling writes in Forbes about six leadership behaviors that drive continuous innovation.


Here are the behaviors that he laid out:

  1. Avoid the assumption that current gifts will keep on giving.
  2. Be alert to “weak signals” of non-linear shifts and trends.
  3. Create the future as a day-to-day business process.
  4. Sponsor experiments and measure like new investments.
  5. Constantly build new skills to be resilient in the face of change.
  6. Invest more energy in the “horse you can control.”


Need help figuring out how to tap into innovation? Sign up for an ACS Leadership Development System® course Fostering Innovation. Gain the understanding and tools to help you tap into your innovation style and learn how to stimulate innovative thinking among team members and colleagues. Visit our website to sign up today.

The 2015 Starting Salaries of Chemists and Chemical Engineers Survey (also known as the New Graduates Survey) is officially out. Conducted by the American Chemical Society, the survey reports on the median salary, employment status and degree advancement for recent graduates at all degree levels. 


Overall, new graduates “continue to face high unemployment and flat salaries,” according to a summary of the survey published in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN). Although the unemployment rate decreased from 13.2% in 2014 to 12.3% in 2015, it far exceeds the overall unemployment rate of 3.1% for all chemists. Despite this, the median salary rose from $40,000 in 2014 to $41,000 in 2015.


Based on the report, C&EN created charts that “highlight data from 1,542 bachelor’s degree awardees because they made up the vast majority of respondents.”


Below are two charts that were presented. In the comments section, tell us what you think about these survey results.


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Download the 2015 Starting Salaries of Chemists and Chemical Engineers Survey.

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Online networking enables you to network no matter where you are in the world. You can sign in from your home, office, local library, on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. The chats are text-based allowing you to make connections, exchange contact information, and end the hour with several new connections you didn't have before.

According to Entrepreneur, here are 7 networking tips to make the most out of your engagement with peers.

  1. Resist the urge to arrive late.
  2. Ask easy questions.
  3. Ditch the sales pitch.
  4. Share your passion.
  5. Smile.
  6. Don’t hijack the conversation.
  7. Remember to follow up.

Put your skills to the test by attending the ACS Virtual Networking Event on September 20th. Register today to share your experiences, exchange career tips and build your professional network -- all online!

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Collaboration is such a necessity in today’s workforce. It’s important to recognize how to communicate with different personalities to make sure that projects run effectively. Not every person communicates the same and Fast Company explored how the five most common personality types communicate.

  1. Nurturers are hardwired to care for others and help others to develop. They protect values and principles, and have a commitment to organizational harmony.
  2. Creatives possess a gift for envisioning the future and are champions of innovation and new ideas. They can see how the pieces of something fit together, and are always looking for ways to make things better.
  3. Guardians strive to preserve and protect, focusing on responsibility, hard work, and stewardship. They seek clarity and logic, and like to see track records of success.
  4. Connectors love connecting people, ideas, and resources. They have an intuitive ability to sense what others feel and need in the moment.
  5. Pioneers are dominant and loud, bringing military-like thinking to the group. They always look to the future, and have a strong desire to win.

Let the ACS Leadership Development System® help you hone your leadership communication skills with courses like Engaging Colleagues in Dialogue, Developing Communication Strategies, and more. ACS members can take our E-Learning Courses at any time.

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When you are applying for new positions your résumé is your introduction to the hiring manager. Are you putting your best foot forward? Business Insider outlined “30 things you should remove from your résumé immediately.”


Here's four things not to include on your résumé:


1. Personal stuff: Don't include your marital status, religious preference, or Social Security number. This might have been the standard in the past, but all of this information is now illegal for your employer to ask from you, so there's no need to include it.


2. Blatant lies: A CareerBuilder survey asked 2,000 hiring managers for memorable résumé mistakes, and blatant lies were a popular choice. One candidate claimed to be the former CEO of the company to which he was applying, another claimed to be a Nobel Prize winner, and one more claimed to attend a college that didn't exist.


3. Inconsistent formatting: The format of your résumé is just as important as its content, says Amanda Augustine, a career-advice expert and spokesperson for TopRésumé and a career consultant for Amanda Augustine LLC. Make sure that your resume formatting is consistent to allow for quick reviews by the hiring manager. This can increase the likelihood of you being selected for an interview.


4. More than 15 years of experience: When you start including jobs from before 2000, you start to lose the hiring manager's interest. Your most relevant experience should be from the past 15 years, so hiring managers only need to see that, Augustine says.


To read the rest of the tips, head over to Business Insider.


Are you currently updating your résumé for the ACS Career Fair? Make sure you register for the Career Fair and connect with an ACS Career Consultant to have them review your résumé so that it is in tip top shape.

As a part of our regular engagement with members, the ACS Insight Lab, an online panel for ACS members, hosted a discussion board to allow students to get advice from chemical professionals. The focus of the conversation was how to prepare for graduate school and what to expect.


After a lively and engaging discussion, we selected three questions and a few of their answers to share with you. Check out the advice below! (And, if you like what you read below, join the ACS Insight Lab to participate in future discussions.)

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Which skills should I gain during graduate school to make me an attractive candidate for an industry position?

• Learn how to fit into any team and be able to adapt your role as the team changes. (Hint: You must know your strong points and embrace your weak points.)

• Become comfortable with getting in front of a group of people and speaking clearly and competently. Also try to master written communication and graphics tools (Photoshop, Illustrator, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Lightroom, etc.). This will show that you are capable of articulating and presenting clear, concise ideas and findings to fellow scientists and non-scientists.


How should I select from graduate programs of varying prestige?

Try to get into the most prestigious school for the following reasons:

• Funding: The faculty there will in general have more grant money for funding your studies so you won't have to serve as a TA as much.

• Contacts and networking: Again, the faculty will have more contacts (former students, contacts via consulting, etc.) so that they hear about more potential openings and can recommend you for an interview.

• Recruiting: Companies have limited resources so they will usually pick a small group of schools that they will visit. The better the department, the increased odds of more companies coming in for interviews.


Which basic prerequisites should I have to start my PhD?

Your acceptance into a PhD program puts you in the top 5% of the general populace in terms of academic ability so don't ever forget that. Here are a few steps that can help:

• Be organized .Once you know what you're going to do, make a detailed plan of execution and modify as you go.

• Reach out to senior grad students; they are among the best resources you'll have. They know everything that could go wrong and by talking to them you can save yourself a lot of heartache and wasted time. If necessary, go out of your way to be friends with them.

• Set time aside for a little socialization and professional development. This will keep you motivated to complete the task at hand.


Aside from these helpful pieces of advice, here are a few ACS graduate school resources that were also shared during the discussion:


Thanks to everyone who was a part of the discussion! Interested in sharing your ideas and opinions with ACS? Join the ACS Insight Lab today and help shape the future of ACS.


Who were the biggest earners in 2015? Data from the latest 2015 ChemCensus has revealed the best compensated work specialties for chemists. Among full-time workers the highest earners were in the field of medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry, which narrowly beat chemical engineering. Other big earners were biotechnologists, polymer chemists, and clinical chemists.



By comparison, chemical educators were among the lowest paid full-time workers, followed closely by those in general chemistry, nanochemistry, biochemistry, and environmental chemistry.




How does your salary stack up in your field? Check out the recently updated ACS Salary Calculator™ to see how your salary compares to your peers.

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“If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Work shouldn’t just be a means of paying the bills.  For your own sense of self-satisfaction you should wake up excited to get to work. Did you know that recent chemistry graduates who find their work challenging actually make more money?


Data from the 2014 Survey of New Graduates reveals a direct correlation between being challenged professionally and being compensated well. Full-time workers who strongly disagreed that they were being challenged at their work only made $28k a year.

By contrast, graduates who strongly agreed that they were being challenged at work made $51k!  That’s almost twice as much.


So get out there and make your skills count and don’t settle for mediocrity.  To find out exactly how much money your skills should be making for you, try out the ACS Salary Calculator It has been newly updated and adjusted for inflation to 2015!

iStock_000060522706_Small.jpgGenerally, when we graduate we are filled with a sense of relief. We feel like the classroom portion of our learning is done and we move on to gaining practical experience in our field. Sometimes it doesn’t occur to us just how important it is to continue our education. The world around us is constantly evolving and changing and this makes it incredibly important that we stay on top of industry trends, technology changes, and best practices.


The Muse.com recently published an article entitled An Easy Way to Make Sure You Never Stagnate in Your Career. This article, written by Caris Therford, outlines five different ways your can thrive in your career by continuing your education and professional development. You can thrive by learning, by building relationships, staying abreast of important changes, staying aware of opportunities, and by building your skills. Head on over to The Muse.com read more.


As you endeavor to keep your career from stagnating be sure to consider a course from ACS Professional Education. ACS Professional Education offers an extensive catalog of in-person, online and OnDemand short courses to enable you to stay on top of new trends and evolving technology in the chemical field. Visit our website at proed.acs.org to browse our course catalog and find a course that meets your needs.

The ACS Career Fair is right around the corner, is your résumé in tip top shape? Check out this infographic from CollegeAtlas.org to make sure yours is good to go. Once you have perfected your résumé head over to C&EN Jobs to create a jobseeker profile so you can get a FREE professional headshot at the Career Fair!



Often times our career trajectories aren’t clear. We fight for our entry level position and work hard to climb the corporate ladder. But what if we looked at our path more like a jungle gym than a ladder? In a recent article, 9 Inspiring Women Leaders in Tech Share Career Advice Everyone Needs to Hear from Mic.com, this topic is explored by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg:


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Do you need help navigating your jungle gym? The ACS Career Navigator™ has a number of resources to help guide you. Choose from our number of Professional Education courses, Leadership Development workshops, Career Pathways workshops, personal Career Consultants, Market Intelligence reports, and much more to help you gain a competitive edge in your career.

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Membership in the American Chemical Society grants you access to a number of great programs and services to help you advance your career. One of these programs is the ACS Career Consultant program. This personalized program gives you access to a consultant to help guide you through job searching, career transitions, resume writing, and more.


Below is a story by ACS Career Consultant Lisa Balbes about a recent interaction with an ACS member:

I am a volunteer career consultant for ACS. That means I help other ACS members with their career issues by reviewing resumes, practicing interviews, and helping them talk through issues and figure out what they want to do, and how to do it.  Over the years, I have worked with hundreds of people, some on multiple job searches over many years. 


Recently, I was working with a career chemist.  On a Friday, he was offered a great position, at a salary close to what he was currently making.  He told the hiring manager that while he was very excited about the job, he had been hoping to get an increase in salary.  The hiring manager told him to think about the offer over the weekend, and that they would talk again on Monday.  The candidate decided to do some research, so used the ACS Salary Calculator to find the salary range for similar positions – which turned out to start about $30K higher than what he was being offered. He shared that data with the company, who came back and offered him the higher salary almost immediately and asked when he could start.  He is thrilled with his new job, and both sides feel like they were treated fairly.


Check out our Career Navigator Spotlight video to learn more about the ACS Career Consultant Program!





For more information on the ACS Salary Calculator™ and all of the other great resources we have to offer head to the ACS Career Navigator™ page!

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